SharePoint & Flow – Vacation Requests

 In Blog

It’s that time of the season where vacation requests are starting to come in for summer. Whether your organization is small or large, having an approval system in place can be crucial to keep things straight and make sure not too many people are out at the same time.

Below we will go over how to create a SharePoint vacation request form, creating a Flow for manager approval, and then having it display on a SharePoint calendar. Having the vacations display on an internally viewable calendar will also help self-service vacation requests so employees can plan accordingly.

As a warning – For the below workflow to work as expected, the user’s manager needs to be set correctly in Azure AD

On the SharePoint site you wish to add the request form & Calendar perform the following steps

Click New -> List

  • Name: Vacation Requests
  • Description: Vacation Requests List
  • Leave checked: Show in site navigation
New List Creation

New List Creation


Click the gear in the top right corner -> Site Contents

SharePoint - Site Contents

SharePoint – Site Contents

Click three dots next to “Vacation Requests” -> Settings

Vacation Requests - List Settings

Vacation Requests – List Settings

We will be making a lot of changes on this settings page and I’ve highlighted all the spots we will be going into

Vacation Request List - Settings

Vacation Request List – Settings

Near the middle of the screen select column labeled “Title

  • Change Column Name to: Vacation Requestor
  • Require that this column contains information: Yes
  • Click the “OK” button
Vacation Request List - Edit Column

Vacation Request List – Edit Column

Select “Create Column

  • Column Name: Start Date
  • Type of Information in this column is: Date and Time
  • Require that this column contains information: Yes
  • Date and Time format: Date & Time
Vacation Request List - Create Column

Vacation Request List – Create Column

Repeat the above steps for “End Date” column

Select “Versioning Settings” -> enable “Require content approval for submitted items?

Vacation Request List - Versioning Settings

Vacation Request List – Versioning Settings

Click “Site Contents” -> New -> App -> select Calendar -> Name: Vacation Calendar

Adding Vacation Calendar

Adding Vacation Calendar

Click 3 dots next to Vacation Calendar -> Settings -> click List name, description and navigation -> enable “Display this list on the Quick Launch” -> Click Save

Vacation Calendar Settings

Vacation Calendar Settings

From your site’s home page you should now have Vacation Requests & Vacation Calendar in the side navigation

Navigation with new lists

Navigation with new lists


Microsoft Flow

At this point, we will perform the rest of the work in Flow. This can be found in your Office 365 app launcher (Square grid in top left corner) or by going to Flow is Microsoft’s answer to the “If this; than that” question. Flow enables users to create automated workflows through many of Microsoft’s cloud products.  

Select My Flows -> New -> Create from template

Microsoft Flow - Create new from template

Microsoft Flow – Create new from template

Select “Approval” tab -> Start approval when a new item is added -> click “Continue” button

Microsoft Flow - Template

Microsoft Flow – Template

  • Rename to Vacation Requests
  • Site Address: Select your SharePoint URL from the drop down list
  • List Name: Will auto populate from the previous lists we created, select “Vacations Requests”
Microsoft Flow - When a new item is created

Microsoft Flow – When a new item is created


Move mouse to arrow right below first step and click “+” -> Add an Action

  • In search type “Get manager” -> Select “Get manager (V2)
  • User (UPN): under Search dynamic content type “Created by” -> Select “Created by Email
Microsoft Flow - Get Manager

Microsoft Flow – Get Manager


Select “Start an approval” and modify as follows

  • Title: Please review: Vacation Requestor’s Vacation Request
  • Assigned To: Mail
  • Details: Created By DisplayName at Created
  • Item Link: Link to Item
  • Item Link Description: Name’s Vacation Request
Microsoft Flow - Start an approval

Microsoft Flow – Start an approval

Click on “Condition” step to modify the “If yes” entry in order for it to update the vacation request list to “Approved” and to add the calendar entry in the Vacation Calendar created earlier

Microsoft Flow - Condition

Microsoft Flow – Condition


Click on “Inform item creator of approval” and change the following:

  • To: Created By Email
  • Subject: Approved By: Approver Name
Microsoft Flow - Inform item creator of approval

Microsoft Flow – Inform item creator of approval

Click “Add an action” -> type/select “Set content approval status” and modify as follows

  • Site Address: Use same URL as used in first step of flow
  • Library Name: Select list created for vacation requests
  • Id: ID
  • Action: Approve
  • Comments: Approved By: Approver Name
Microsoft Flow - Set Content approval status

Microsoft Flow – Set Content approval status

Click “Add an action” -> Type/select “Create Item” and modify as follows

  • Site Address: Use same URL as used above
  • Library Name: Calendar will not display in drop down, but type in name exactly as it was created above
  • Title: Created By DisplayName’s Vacation
  • Start Time: Start Date
  • End Time: End Date
Microsoft Flow - Create Item

Microsoft Flow – Create Item

Now that we have wrapped up the configuration have a user test out the process by entering in a vacation request. That user’s manager will get an email with an option to Approve or Reject the request. Below I have outlined the steps to take

Have testing user click “New” on the Vacation Request list -> Fill in the blanks -> Click Save

Vacation Request form filled out

Vacation Request form filled out

Manager receives email from Flow -> Select “Approve” -> add comment if desired -> click “Submit”

Vacation Request Email

Vacation Request Email

The user who submitted the request receives an email back from the manager about approval, the Vacation Request list is updated to Approved, and there is also a new calendar entry.

Vacation request approved

Vacation request approved

Vacation Submitted Calendar

Vacation Submitted Calendar

At first this glance this can feel like a long process to set up, but setting up a vacation request workflow will introduce some automation into the busy work day and can help coordinate vacations as we come into the summer months. Please contact us here if you would like help setting up this workflow or have any questions with any of Microsoft’s cloud offerings.


Showing 16 comments
  • Jay Jam

    This is very well defined and easy to follow. One issue still bugs me. When the manager receives the request, it shows “Requested By: the flow creator” Why? How can this be changed to reflect the actual person that requests the leave request.
    Appreciate your response.

    • Michael Luehr

      Sadly this is a technical limitation by Microsoft. The only way I have been able to “get around” this is by using a generic account to create our workplace flows so that way it’s not tied to one particular user (especially if the account gets deleted when they leave the company).

  • Jay Jam

    Thank you so much for this. Your article is of great help to me.

  • Nikola

    Hello : )
    Thank you for this tutorial, it’s really useful.
    Could you please explain what is the purpose of the get manager field populated by the “created by email” attribute?
    Is it the step where we specify who will be the one approving requests or?
    What if i wanted to specify 3 or 4 people who can approve requests (or even a group?) ?

    Thank you : )

    • Michael Luehr

      Sadly, from my research and testing, Flow doesn’t natively support sending approvals to O365 groups or distribution lists. But you can list out the individuals in the “Assigned to” section of the “Start an approval” section (and then drop the “Get manager” part of the Flow altogether).

  • Nikola

    Also, it looks like the item is created in the calendar even though it’s pending and not approved yet.

  • Nikola

    Last question:
    How do we cancel request? : )

  • Nikola

    Don’t mind the first two questions, i researched the flow and i found the answer myself : )

    The questions that remain are:
    How do we cancel the holiday request (The person who submitted the form or the manager who approved) ?
    If we manually delete the form in the list, the entry in the calendar doesn’t get deleted. Any way to do it automatically?

    • Michael Luehr

      We performed several tests and have not been able to replicate the issue you have run into with having the calendar item appear before it is approved. But as an end user, if they wish to cancel their request, they can delete the item created in SharePoint. We’d be happy to review the flow you created to see where the differences are.

  • Nikola

    Hi Michael, thanks for replying. It’s true that the calendar item doesn’t appear before it’s approved, my bad.
    About cancelling, if end users remove their request from the request list, the calendar item will still remain? It might bring the confusion.

  • Conor

    Is it possible to make elements from the list disappear once the end date is due?

    • Michael Luehr

      Conor – That is a great question and I could see the use for it. I’m sure there is a way to create a secondary Flow to run daily to remove items based upon “End date”. Alternatively, you may be able to adjust the permissions on the list so ONLY the user who posted the request can see their own items which would allow for better tracking of vacation days (because I know I’m guilty of sometimes forgetting how many I have taken).

  • Archana

    I followed the same exact steps as given above, except the Get Manager. Since in my organization, manager is not specified in Office 365. But i am having trouble in referring the Vacation Calendar that we added in the Navigation. I do see the Vacation calendar but not able to select it during the flow

    • Michael Luehr

      Hello Archana! I have seen this happen once, and instead of selecting the calendar name from the drop down I was able to manually type the name in and then the flow was able to continue. Would you be able to give that a shot and let us know if it worked?

      • Jose

        I was able to add the calendar name by typing it manually, however I’m unable to select the Start date and End date.

        • Michael Luehr

          Hello Jose – Is this in the Flow section of “SharePoint Create Item”? Do the entries Start Time& End Time display to be filled in? If so, you can click in those fields and in the search box that opens up, type in the items you are looking for.

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